by Doris Strub Epstein
While Ottawa focuses only on bringing the Syrian migrants, continuing to ignore the problems inherent in their decision, they are ignoring hundreds of thousands of non Muslim minorities, targeted for immediate genocide by ISIS. At the top of the list are the ancient Yazidi people, then the Chaldo Assyrian Christians. But all non Muslim minorities – the Mandaens, the Bahai, Shebak, Turkoman – in northern Iraq and Syria are threatened.
In August,2014, the Islamic State attacked northern Iraq, home to over 400,000 Yazidis. The UN confirmed that 5,00O men were executed and as many as 7,000 women and girls were made sex slaves. Last month, German broadcasters produced footage documenting the slave trade being conducted through an office in Turkey near the border with Syria. “IS offers women and underage children in a kind of virtual slave market with for sale photos.” Germany has committed to taking in immediately, 1000 of these ISIS victims for special treatment.
There are more than 25,000 Yazidi refugees currently languishing in Turkey and Syria according to Mirza Ismail, Chair Yazidi Human Rights Organization International. “They are abused by the Muslim authorities in charge, denied food and medicine. Or they can’t get into UN refugee camps at all since the Muslims who dominate the camps do not want them there,” he said. Daily, desperate Yazidi refugees are risking their lives, fleeing to Greece via the Aegean Sea on tube boats and on foot to Bulgaria. Since December 10, more than 40 have drowned. Majid Abdal a Yazidi who lives now in Toronto, lost his cousins, five children and their parents.
The same for the Chaldo Assyrian Christians who have repeatedly been forced to renounce their religion or die. Enslavement, rape; their churches destroyed.”
Ismail is recently back from Washington where he testified to a sub committee hearing of the US Committee on Foreign Affairs, Genocidal Attacks Against Christian and Other Religious Minorities in the Middle East. Obama too, is focusing only on Syrian refugees. Chairman Smith voiced the concern of the Committee that “the Yazidis, Christians and other non Muslim religious minorities are facing genocide. Their lives are at risk from ISIS”. They declared them “a refugee crisis”. “We are giving lip service to Never Again,” said Chairman Smith. “We must act”.
Senator Ron Johnson , chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee said: “There is a concern with this large volume in such a short period of time, that adequate vetting may not be occurring…these individuals could represent a threat to America given our porous border.”
It’s impossible to screen the Syrians for security since the institutions where they could be checked in Damascus no longer function. There are no records available. Furthermore, said Toronto immigration lawyer Guidy Mamann, no criminal records doesn’t eliminate the possibility of terrorists. “The 9/ll hijackers had no criminal records, nor the Boston marathon bombers or the San Bernardino shooters. These are no anti Muslim statements; they’re facts. Not all are bad, but some are. We are asking our border officials to do the impossible, to try and figure out what’s inside someone’s mind and to figure out what a person is going to be thinking tomorrow.”
“Also,” he added, ” We are not pulling people (Syrians) out of the battlefield or people who are on the run. We are pulling people out of Jordan and Turkey who have been there for months, even years.”
In February, ISIS sent a message to the world, that they had 5,000 of their recruits planted among the Syrians coming into Europe. In Lebanon, where one in five is a Syrian refugee, the Minister of Education stated there were 20,000 jihadi terrorists among them. More than half of them were migrants from other countries in the Middle East or even farther, with faked Syrian passports.
A new report announced on CNN, warned that based on US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s intelligence sources, ISIS has access to passport printing machines and blank passport books. They have announced publicly that they are sending their fighters to infiltrate Western nations by hiding them amongst refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.
For Jews, these persecuted peoples, abandoned by the world, strikes a painful, familiar chord. It evokes the anguish of the Jews of the thirties threatened with Nazi genocide. Then too, the world was silent. Jews were quick to respond. Soon after the initial attack by ISIS last Augusts, Canadian Jews and Friends of Yazidis formed in Toronto. They were making inroads with the previous government, but, reported head of the group, Rananah Gemeiner, she has called John McCallum, Minister of Immigration and Refugees repeatedly for an “immediate emergency meeting regarding the Yazidis and other minorities deserving priority refugee consideration,” and received no answer. Nor has Mirza Ismail.
Many, including President Obama, say the situation of Syrian refugees is similar to the plight of the Jews in WW11. But Jews were never a terror threat; there is evidence terrorists and radical Islamists are hiding among the Syrians. Jews were singled out for persecution by the Nazis; it is the Yazidis, the Christians and other non Muslim minorities who are being hunted down by ISIS. Jews had nowhere to go; Syrian refugees should have many places to go especially among the 57 member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The majority are migrants, not refugees as defined by international law. They include those who have found shelter but prefer to go to the Western countries.
The situation of the homeless Syrians is dreadful and heart wrenching. But choices must be made; priorities established. On humanitarian grounds, the Yazidis and other minority groups should receive priority because they are the most persecuted in the Middle East and have nowhere else to go. They present no social adaptation or security problems and face daily genocide and imminent extinction.
Dr. Catherine Chatterley Director of the Canadian Institute for the Study of Anti Semitism has stated; “Special priority should be given to the orphans, specially girls and young women, who are the most vulnerable to sexual assault and exploitation in refugee camps and the victims of ISIS’s rape culture of sexual slavery.